Medina County Courthouse

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Judge Kimbler Changes Jury Selection Process

I have started using the "struck" method of handling peremptory challenges in both civil and criminal jury trials. Under this method, the attorneys question the whole panel of potential jurors for cause and then when exercising their peremptory challenges, they "strike" jurors from the panel. This contrasts with the "strike and replace" method where after a juror is excused because of a peremptory challenge, the attorney gets to question the juror who is called up to take the excused juror's place.

Although this method had been used by Ohio trial judges with the consent of parties for some time, I had not used it until the Ohio Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure had been changed to expressly authorize its use. Although the the change in the Rules took place in July of 2009, I only started using it in 2011.

While I was out this fall following surgery, Judge Marvin Shapiro, who is a retired judge from Summit County was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice to hear some of my cases. He uses the "struck" method for peremptory challenges. My court reporter remarked to me that it seemed to her that examination of jurors took less time under this method than under the "strike and replace" method.

So far I have used it in both criminal and civil jury trials. I find that while the initial examination of the panel takes longer, the whole jury selection process takes less time with this method. Another advantage is that the jurors don't know which side has exercised a peremptory challenge against which juror. This is because I have the attorneys either exercise the peremptory challenges in my chambers or at sidebar, where the jury cannot hear the challenges.

I am having the attorneys examine around 20 jurors for civil cases and around 25 jurors for criminal cases. During a recent civil trial, I got the attorneys to agree to impanel nine jurors and then I excused one of the jurors at the end of the trial as the alternate. That way none of the jurors or the attorneys knew which juror was going to be the alternate juror.

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